MLB DFS Plays: Tuesday 5/18

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This article outlines the best daily fantasy MLB plays of the day at every position. We take a comprehensive look to uncover these core recommendations, factoring respective salaries into the analysis.

Please note, these player picks were organized early in the day. For MLB contests, always check lineups and weather closer to game time. Rain, wind, or unexpected managerial decisions could open up additional sources of value. Be sure to keep an eye on the MLB Headlines and Injuries desk.

A few locations have a low risk of game time rain so keep an eye on the weather. I’ll proceed as if it’s green across the board.

PITCHER

Top Play: Zack WheelerPhillies (vs Marlins)

This is the sort of slate that will reward an unexpected approach. With fourteen games and at least as many playable pitchers at a range of all price points, tonight should be pandemonium. Wheeler is my top-projected pitcher, narrowly edging out Woodruff and Lynn. He has a couple advantages. Woodruff is typically restricted to around 90 pitches while Wheeler regularly crosses the 100-pitch threshold. He’s been more efficient than Lynn this year. The result is a projection just shy of seven innings. The other top arms are closer to six frames. The Marlins lineup is strikeout prone and not especially potent.

I think there will be cleverer approaches than using ANY of the top pitchers.

Pivot: Kris Bubic – Royals (vs Brewers)

One such clever trick is Bubic, a minimum-priced southpaw who will probably pass the five-inning threshold. That gives him a shot at earning the win bonus. He records about a strikeout per inning too. He should provide easy, deep bargain value – an excellent way to squeeze in an elite stack. As a bonus, the Brewers offense skews left-handed.

Also Consider: Brandon Woodruff, Lance Lynn, Julio Urias, Cristian Javier, Blake Snell, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Andrew Heaney, JT Brubaker, Spencer Turnbull, Tucker Davidson

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CATCHER

Top Play: J.T. Realmuto – Phillies (vs Nick Neidert)

The Phillies stack has the potential to be one of the best or merely mediocre. It comes down to the availability of Realmuto and Bryce Harper, both of whom are day-to-day with nagging injuries. Realmuto’s injury is a wrist issue so it could make sense to avoid him altogether. The matchup couldn’t be juicier. Neidert is one of the worst pitchers in the Majors. He typically lasts about four innings before turning things over to exploitable relievers.

Pivot: Mike Zunino – Rays (at Matt Harvey)

Zunino has turned into an extreme fly ball hitter with a potent 117-mph max exit velocity. Harvey is a crappy and homer prone ground ball pitcher. The opposing batted ball traits improves Zunino’s odds for a home run. He’s big fly or bust, hitting .207/.286/.524 with his typically dreadful 34.1 percent strikeout rate and .209 BABIP.

Also Consider: Yermin Mercedes, Omar Narvaez, Gary Sanchez, Will Smith, Rafael Marchan, Eric Haase

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Shohei Ohtani – Angels (vs Zach Plesac)

Ohtani is hitting more fly balls than ever without giving up any quality of contact. In fact, his average and max exit velocities are among the best in the league. So too are his barrel and hard contact rates. The drawback with Ohtani this year is an aggressive approach intended to hide a high whiff rate. Plesac has pitched to contact this season. He has reverse platoon splits due to a quality changeup. However, Ohtani’s swing is geared to catch offspeed mistakes. It’s part of what makes him and his swing-doppelgänger Bryce Harper so potent.

Pivot: Matt Olson – Athletics (vs Javier)

Olson projects comparably to Ohtani and has a friendlier matchup. He’s made some small adjustments which have led to fewer infield flies and more contact in the first quarter of the season. However, there are signs he’s reverted to some previous bad habits. Javier is a fly ball pitcher who has miraculously avoided a high home run rate through seven starts. The markers are there for over 1.50 HR/9. Olson is the likeliest of the Athletics hitters to exploit him with a one-in-four chance to homer.

Also Consider: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy, Yuli Gurriel, Rhys Hoskins, Jared Walsh, Josh Bell

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Brandon Lowe – Rays (at Harvey)

Like the Phillies unit, the Rays stack will be dreadfully obvious to all tonight. Lowe is one of the best bets for a home run in the entire slate: just shy of a one-in-three chance. His launch angle almost perfectly mirrors Harvey’s, making this one of the singularly best opponents for Lowe in the league. If there’s a drawback, it’s that 40 percent of his plate appearances end without a ball in play. However, that figure should play closer to 30 percent for tonight.

Pivot: Jean Segura – Phillies (vs Neidert)

This season, Neidert is running an extreme fly ball rate. It could be a small sample fluke, or it might signal an attempt to work up in the zone. Whatever the cause, this is some form of a friendly matchup for Segura. If Neidert is running a legitimate 50 percent fly ball rate, then Segura has a one-in-five chance to homer in addition to the top multi-hit potential at second base. And if not, Segura still projects to lead all keystoners in hits.

Also Consider: Marcus Semien, Ozzie Albies, Jose Altuve, Nick Solak, Jake Cronenworth, Enrique Hernandez, Ha-seong Kim, Domingo Leyba, Dylan Moore, Nick Madrigal, Josh Harrison

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Justin Turner – Dodgers (vs Merrill Kelly)

UPDATE: Turner is expected to receive a day off. Consider Machado the top play.

If you’re thinking about using the likes of Bubic or Davidson, it’s probably because you want to dust off an expensive Dodgers stack. Turner has been overpriced for much of this season but checks in at a reasonable rate tonight. His mild preference for fly ball contact pairs well against Kelly’s slight skew toward ground balls. The Diamondbacks bullpen is a smoking pit of despair.

Pivot: Kyle Seager – Mariners (vs Turnbull)

DFS GPPs really reward chasing home runs. A Mariners stack won’t really be in play tonight whereas a few of the other popular third base plays will be combined with teammates. That makes Seager a highly leveraged opportunity. He should be lightly used. Turnbull has a 50 percent ground ball rate while Seager is sitting on a 50 percent fly ball rate.

Also Consider: Manny Machado, Jose Ramirez, Alex Bregman, Anthony Rendon, Gio Urshela, Yoan Moncada, Alec Bohm, Brad Miller, Starlin Castro,

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Trea Turner – Nationals (at Zach Davies)

Whether he’s used as part of a stack or by himself, Turner is a layup top play tonight. The famous Wrigley Field wind is blowing out to center at 10 mph. Davies, a soft-tossing right-hander, has struggled to induce whiffs or hard contact this season. He skews a tad towards ground ball contact which could be his lone saving graces.

Pivot: Willy Adames – Rays (at Harvey)

Adames will bat near the bottom of the Rays lineup which can be an opportunity for leverage in an otherwise popular stack. Since the start of May, his luck has leveled out – he’s hitting .256/.319/.512 with three home runs in 47 plate appearances. Adames is making career-best quality of contact, albeit with a painful 35.8 percent strikeout rate. As with Lowe, facing Harvey and the Orioles bullpen should save some points off that expected whiff rate.

Also Consider: Javier Baez, Bo Bichette, Tim Anderson, Didi Gregorius, Luis Urias

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Austin Meadows – Rays (at Harvey)
Randy Arozarena – Rays (at Harvey)
Juan Soto – Nationals (at Davies)

If you’re leaning Rays, these are the most exciting components. Meadows may top the slate in multi-homer potential. His extreme fly ball rate makes this a high risk, high reward opportunity. Arozarena has yet to take off this season, reverting to the extreme ground ball rate which made him a middling prospect while with the Cardinals. Because he’s so pricy, thrifty stackers may skip him. As for Soto, he hasn’t done much since returning from injury. The issue is two-fold, bad luck on too many ground balls. He’s a daily candidate for power outcomes and/or multiple hits.

Pivots: Kyle Schwarber – Nationals (at Davies)
Jarred Kelenic – Mariners (at Turnbull)

After a slow start to the season, Schwarber is hitting .268/.388/.571 over his last 67 plate appearances with five home runs. Tonight is a homecoming of sorts for him. As a fly ball hitter set to face exploitable opponents, he might be an even better play than Soto. Kelenic, everybody’s favorite prospect, might slip through the cracks now that he’s more reasonably price (but still cheap!). He projects as an easy bargain target.

Also Consider: Ohtani, Ronald Acuna, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge, J.D. Martinez, Nelson Cruz, Kris Bryant, Andrew Vaughn, Victor Robles, Andrew McCutchen, Miller